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Fr. Michael Engh starts his term as 28th president at Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, CA -- Jan. 7, 2009. Michael Engh, S.J., distinguished historian and Jesuit priest, took office as the 28th president of Santa Clara University on Jan. 1, 2009.

In an e-mail to faculty, staff, and students, Engh said he was excited to be at Santa Clara and impressed with the commitment of the university to the academic mission of enhancing learning and promoting Catholic, Jesuit values of justice and compassionate service to the neediest in our world.

"Your passion energizes me, and I look forward to Santa Clara's continued excellence," he said.

Engh, 59, was elected by Santa Clara University's Board of Trustees during a special meeting of the governing body on Sept. 17.

A.C. "Mike" Markkula, chair of the Santa Clara University Board of Trustees, said, "Fr. Engh brings to Santa Clara an outstanding record as a scholar, teacher, historian, and administrator. He has made significant academic contributions in his career as a historian and understands the potential of Jesuit institutions to advance learning and artistic expression, faculty scholarship, and social justice."

During his first year at Santa Clara, Engh said his job will be to ask a lot of questions and to listen deeply to the campus community. As president, his priorities will center on attracting diverse and academically gifted students, recruiting and retaining talented faculty, and fundraising.

The oldest of six children, he was born in Los Angeles, where his mother's family first settled in the 1880s. His father, Donald, is a retired captain in the Los Angeles city fire department and his mother, Marie Therese (Airey) Engh, is a homemaker. He graduated from St. Bernard High School, in Playa del Rey, Calif. in 1968.

A baseball enthusiast, Engh said the two words that best describe him are: Dodgers Fan! In his free time, he enjoys reading, regular exercise, and spending time with friends. He is also looking forward to getting to know and engage with the diversity, energy, and entrepreneurial spirit that are the hallmarks of Silicon Valley.

Engh, who first visited Santa Clara in 1974 as a Jesuit novice, has great memories of his early visits to the Mission campus. Captivated by history as a child, he remembers being fascinated by the past, by historic sites, and original documents. His grandfather Edmund F. Airey, Sr., was a great storyteller, and Engh grew up hearing his accounts of California history and sharing his love of the past. "Engaging teachers in high school and college further inspired my love of studying history," he said.

Engh, who has a reputation of being a challenging professor and a tough grader - "if you want the best for your students, you have to ask their best from them" - also knew early on in his student life that he wanted to be a teacher. "My first experience as a teacher was teaching history to a class of high school students. I knew then I had found my true vocation."

Fr. Engh succeeds Paul Locatelli, S.J., who retired as president after 20 years at SCU to become Secretary of Higher Education for the Society of Jesus. Locatelli will continue as chancellor at Santa Clara after a working sabbatical to give him time to focus on his new role, with the Jesuit order, which requires more time in Rome and more international travel.

About Santa Clara University


Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California's Silicon Valley, offers its 8,685 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice.

Media Contact: Deepa Arora - 408-554-5125;

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